A gentleman in whom I place a lot of trust wrote recently about collaboration. Charlie Green of Trusted Advisor Associates (his company name is truly fitting) writes that intent, strategy and action steps are necessary for collaboration but individually theyare not enough to make it work.
I agree with Charlie; collaboration, like the act itself, is a skillful blend of intent, strategy and action steps, stewed with a hefty dose of reality check and served with more than one "grain of salt." I admit, I occasionally talk collaboration as a result of sheer enthusiasm. I'll meet someone, get wrapped up in who they are and what they do and jump right in with the "we should work together on…" routine. The truth is, I haven't thought about the ramifications of what I am saying. I've got the intent but lacking strategy and action steps, I have as Charlie says, bupkus. So how does one make this collaboration work? I could be more original but intent, strategy and action steps really do work for me. Each alone is not enough but honing the effectiveness of each is the best place to start. This week- intent.
Intention is forward looking, that is something our actions will lead to or provide. In an effort to clarify intent, let's begin with a few questions:
Does collaboration appeal to me? If not, stop here; don't let your enthusiasm get the best of you. If you don't like the idea, it's simple- DON"T DO IT! Just because it is in widespread use does not mean it is meant for everyone.
What do I expect from collaboration? Knowing what you want from collaboration will enable you to clearly state the benefits of pursuing this effort. Be very clear- the process of translating intention into action will be enhanced immensely; the probability of creating an effective collaborative relationship will improve greatly.
With whom is collaboration desirable? There are some folks with whom collaboration is not effective- you know who they are and why. Identify the folks that are right for you and direct your efforts there.
To your potential collaborators: ask the first two questions and whether or not you are a suitable collaborator for them.
Well planned intent is one way to facilitate the collaboration process; it is not enough by itself but it is a step that cannot be overlooked.